It makes me sad when I hear this phrase from my patient. It signals the end of our conversation, my lame attempt to help and my patient’s gentle way to acknowledge that I was pretty useless.

I don’t expect myself to know the answers to everything. But I do try my best. I also know my best sometimes isn’t enough. We all have limits to what we can do. We are humans. We aren’t saints.

Our health system is broken. It’s inefficient. It’s so easy for things to fall through the cracks. Behind those words, I could hear pain and suffering. The agony that the person has experienced has started many years ago. It seems that he has been let down so many times. He has been disappointed in so many ways. This is normal. There is nothing surprising for him.

But it makes me uncomfortable, that I have to walk away…knowing I have done all I could, at least within my scope. And it remains that he will be in the same situation.

He knew. He knows. And at the end of the conversation, it feels like he was the one comforting me, that “it is what it is”.